The cultural complexity of international collaboration: Conditions for sustainable curriculum development in Ghana

C.J. Gervedink Nijhuis, Joke Voogt, Julius Marie Pieters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


International cooperation initiatives often focus on the development of curricula to increase the quality of education in developing countries. Through the adoption of a culturally sensitive approach, effective conditions for curriculum development can be created. Nevertheless, aid organizations and international project teams frequently lack cultural understanding to create conditions related to ownership and adequate project management. Consequently, misunderstandings and conflicts between project members and with stakeholders occur, which can lead to curriculum implementation failures and unsuccessful educational reform initiatives. This paper outlines a case study which aimed to identify how conditions supporting the development of a professional development program for polytechnic Heads of Department in Ghana, were sensitive to culture. A conceptual framework for culturally sensitive curriculum development was used to facilitate the identification of culture in conditions related to Creation of ownership and Project management. Project members from Ghana and The Netherlands participated in the data collection by means of documents, interviews, and a researcher's logbook. Results showed that the creation of stakeholders’ involvement, partnership between project team members, and the management of project resources, budget and time were impacted by Hofstede's cultural dimensions of High-Low Power Distance and Collectivism–Individualism and by Hall's cultural dimensions High-Low Context and Polytime-Monotime. By developing different types of culturally sensitive strategies, the project team anticipated on culture to strengthen the conditions for curriculum development, but culture remained challenging to cope with
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)647-658
JournalInternational journal of intercultural relations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • IR-84039
  • METIS-292880

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